(the same day West Virginia became a state).  When Lee’s troops advanced into Maryland and Pennsylvania the Eighth was ordered out and assigned to Averell’s brigade.  They operated against “MudwallJackson around Strasburg, Franklin, Monteray, Huntersville and Hillsboro along with with many other minor battles.  Regimental papers also show the regiment at Grafton in June, Beverly on July 2 and 3, Huttonsville July 4, Cumberland, Maryland July 7, Hedgesville July 18 and Martinsburg July 18 and 19, 1863.  They left with Averell on his raid through Hardy, Pendleton, Highland, Bath, Greenbrier, and Pocahontas counties in August 1863.  Not many records were kept but the information that is available shows the troops at Huntersville August 22, Warm Springs August 24, Jackson River August 25, Rocky Gap near the town of White Sulphur Springs August 26 and 27.  The men camped at Martinsburg until November 1863 at which time General Averell took the Eighth with him on his raid against Lewisburg and the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad.  During the raid they were at Mill Point, Battle of Droop Mountain and Skirmishes at Covington, Virginia.

 

The Battle of Droop Mountain took place on November 6, 1863 in Pocahontas County, West Virginia.  General Averell’s veteran army, numbering between five and six thousand men, was composed of many West Virginia and Ohio units including the Eighth.  The Confederate Army, headed by General John Echols, had around two thousand troops.  Both sides received heavy casualties, including heavy losses by the Confederate 22nd Virginia Infantry which was also made up of men from the counties surrounding the Kanawha Valley.  This is the one battle in West Virginia that brother literally faced brother.  The Federal troops reported 30 killed and wounded at Droop Mountain while the 22nd Confederate lost 113 of its 550 men.

 

 

The Salem Raid 

 

There was no single incident during the Civil War that caused more suffering than did the Salem Raid which took place in mid-December 1863.  Union General Burnside was besieged at Knoxville, Tennessee by Confederate General Longstreet.  Averell was ordered to raise the siege by cutting off  Longstreet’s supplies and directed to cut the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad Line interrupting communications between Richmond and Knoxville.  He was ordered to do this “at all hazards” even if it meant the destruction or capture of his entire army.  When the order was given, Averell’s army , mostly West Virginians, was stationed at New Creek (now Keyser WV).  They started the march on December 8, 1863 but did not have sufficient time to shoe all the horses before starting.  they were told to finish the job on the road whenever an opportunity was presented but these opportunities did not come often.

 

The course selected was almost a straight line from New Creek, through Petersburg, Franklin, Monterey, Back Creek, Gatewood’s Callaghan’s, Sweet Sulphur Spring, New Castle to Salem.  Most of the way they followed the general line of the summit of the Alleghenies.  The command of approximately thirty-three hundred men reached Monterey on December 11.  On December 14 they were opposite Greenbrier County, but east of the Alleghenies.

 

At two o’clock on the morning of December 15 they pushed up Dunlap Creek “in a night as dark as a dungeon.”  A ride of eight hours brought the troops to Sweet Sulphur Valley were a halt was made to make coffee and feed and rest the horses before the dash into Salem which they hoped to reach by daylight the next morning.

 

When Averell’s men were a short distance from Salem, he sent in three hundred fifty horsemen and two rifled cannons.  They went into Salem on a dead run, with little resistance.  When the remainder of the force came up, detachments were sent four miles east and twelve miles west to destroy the railroad and bridges.  Sixteen miles of track were torn up.  The ties were stacked in piles with the rails placed on tip and set on fire.  The rails were melted and twisted by the heat making it impossible to use them to repair the track.  They also destroyed supply warehouses and depots, water tanks, and railroad cars stored on side tracks. 

 

General Averell’s mission was accomplished,  but the hard part was yet to come.  He had to elude the twelve thousand Confederate troops that surrounded  him and get his army back to his own camp.    They  halted for the night seven miles from Salem.   The troops were  exhausted

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